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Phosphorus interception technology installed on Ontario pig farm

The Salford, ON site is just one of many projects conducted in southwestern Ontario by the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative to add technology that intercept and remove phosphorus from agricultural runoff.


March 31, 2020


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The tower is hooked into the field's tile drainage system and the hope is that phosphorus will bind to the material in the filter. Photo courtesy of Thames River PRC.

A cold day in mid-February did not slow down the installation of phosphorus reduction technology at one Ontario pig farm.

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and Bluewater Pipe installed phosphorus interception and extraction technology at a Salford, ON site. The site is a pig barn with manure storage on a hill surrounded by a 100-acre field that was tiled in December 2018.

The Salford, ON site is just one of many projects conducted in southwestern Ontario by the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative (PRC) to add technology that intercept and remove phosphorus from agricultural runoff.

Other Thames River PRC projects include Boudreau pump station, Medway Creek, Roesch Farm in Chatham, ON, Muddy River, and Woodstock.

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Salford project

At the Salford site, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) will be responsible for the site and the Thames River PRC will provide research and weather data support from Weather INnovations Consulting LP (WIN) using model-based precipitation from surrounding weather stations.

At the Salford site, part of the field slopes to the east and the remainder slopes to the west. The drainage system conducts water to Reynolds Creek and ultimately to the Lower Thames near Putnam, ON.

For the project, a capsule containing a combination of crushed stone and slag (material left over from smelting metal) will be inserted into the tile to capture phosphorus (P) from the water that flows out.

Water will be sampled before insertion, and the UTRCA will take samples at regular intervals, and especially after major rain events. The conservation authority’s laboratory will be used to test samples.

Installation update

According to a March 30 update from the Thames River PRC, the Salford installation took place in mid-February.

In the photo, it can be seen that the tower is hooked into the field’s tile drainage system. Water is diverted through a porous bag of combined slag (byproducts from steel production) and stone. Thames River PRC states the hope is that the phosphorus will bind to the material in the filter.

Another advantage of the phosphorus interception and extraction technology is that “it doesn’t mind the cold and will work in both summer and winter,” the update explains. This is particularly good news for southwestern Ontario which dealt with a cool, wet spring in 2019.

Data from demonstration sites will be collected after spring runoff, and project updates are posted on Thames River PRC’s site.

The project teams will measure pounds of P removed. It will be calculated using data on total P and dissolved P for the efficiency of the technology. The capsule will be removed annually and analyzed as a biosolid.